Unpacking with Danielle

Travel & Exploration

Tag: Teaching (page 2 of 2)

Someone Thew Up

A girl threw up in my class.  I knew it would happen sometime because kids seem to throw up more than other people.  Plus I remember people throwing up a lot when I was in elementary school.

So it finally happened and this is how it went down.

My co-teacher was in the front of the room leading a fill-in-the-blank exercise.  I was taking care of classroom management, walking around the room making sure kids were focused on the lesson/showing them how to focus.  At some point in the middle of this she vomited.  I didn’t see it.  I didn’t hear it.  All I noticed was she was standing up with her head down and sobbing.  And then I saw a bunch of white milky rice stuff all over the desk and floor.  ‘Oh.  She threw up.’

I headed for the door to get stuff from the bathroom to clean up when my co-teacher said, “Danielle, can you continue the lesson?”  I said, “Sure”, went up to the front of the room, and just picked up where she left off.  Every kid was looking back at the girl and the vomit.  I mean, a train wreck IS more interesting than learning how to say, She has curly hair.

So grabbed my shoe deodorizer and sprayed the area.  I heard a big, “WHOA!”  Then I went to the front of the room and said, “Everyone, look up here!  We’re almost done!” and for a moment I half had their attention.  They’d look at me, then back at the puke, then back at me, then at the puke.  Then it hit me.  The smell had made its way up to the front of the room and I started gagging.  And they found it funny.  So I had their full attention.  I ran to open the other door, handed a dry erase marker to a kid, said, “You” and pointed to a blank on the board, then ran to open the windows with my hand cupped over my mouth.  I am not good with vomit and these kids loved seeing me almost throw up.

Then kids started complaining about the smell.


I agreed with them.  Nodding, I said, “I know.”  It was disgusting.

I then went into my purse and pulled out some perfume, Giulietta by Tocca.  It was a solid perfume from an upscale beauty store in Lincoln Park in Chicago.  It’s a mix of Bulgarian rose, ylang ylang, green apple, pink tulips, lily of the valley, iris, vanilla orchid, lilac, heliotrope, cedarwood, musk, amber, and sandalwood.


I put some on my hand and was immediately transported from rice vomit classroom to the island of Corsica, where (according to Tocca) Italian director Federico Fellini and his actress wife, Giulietta Masina, would take trips and dream up the director’s visionary tales.

I started going around the room and putting some on every kid who was gagging.  It left a pale, sparkly sheen on their skin.  They sniffed it and perked up.  Somewhere between the second and third kid the whole class swarmed me, all requesting it by sticking their hands in my face.  Every kid got some.  Many of them came back for more, wanting it on the outsides and insides of both their hands.  They then either peacefully sat at their desks sniffing their hands or happily skipped around the room.  Meanwhile my co-teacher was mopping up the vomit.

The bell rang, they left happy, and my co-teacher asked if she could have some too.  I gave her some and then Febreezed the floor.  It was like the whole thing never happened.

We then had a 3-day weekend.  When we were back on Monday the girl who threw up stopped by with this:


It was a gift for my co-teacher and me.  The girl felt bad that she threw up and caused a scene, so she wrote us this note and gave us some vitamin C drops.  I’d tell you what the note says but I still can’t read.  Something like ‘Sorry I made so much work for you.  Please feel better with these.’  She even looked embarrassed dropping it off.

How do you tell a kid, who doesn’t speak English, thanks but let’s just drop it and move on with our lives?

If Young-mi can do it…

A class learned today that the girl with autism, who no one thought could do anything, can actually spell better than most of the other kids in the class.

It’s been interesting watching her learning unfold.  My first week teaching I really thought she should not be in class with the other kids.  She clearly learns in her own way and needs lessons customized to her needs.  Also, she couldn’t be quiet and focus.  Several times in a 40-minute period she would make loud noises, grab people, and get up.  She was very moody and a few times hit people and once chocked my co-teacher.  It was so bad that even her aide ran out of the room when she got violent.  The rest of the class found her distracting and were consequently apathetic.  I couldn’t blame them.  How would you feel if every time you tried to focus someone started screaming, grabbed your arm tightly, and started pulling as you were trying to write?

That said, the girl loves to draw.  So we give her paper and crayons.  Whenever she doesn’t feel like sitting and listening (?) to what’s going on in class, she draws.  She loves drawing pink bunnies.  The rest of the class is so out-of-control that honestly I was content with her quietly doing that and not giving the other students another reason to lose focus.  We also moved her seat to the back middle row so she could still feel part of the lesson but would be less distracting whenever she had a “moment.”

This seems to have helped her more than the other students.  Since moving her, she has not had one meltdown.  She quietly sits.  Sometimes she listens to the lesson and watches what we’re doing.  Sometimes she draws.  Sometimes she looks out the window.  Sometimes she stares off into space.  Sometimes she flips the pages of her textbook against her face.

I really don’t care so long as she’s occupied and quiet.  I told my co-teacher if she learns a handful of English words I would consider it a success since there was no indication she knew any English and even her Korean wasn’t good.

Today as I passed her desk, she had drawn this:



Then she sat up and said, “Carrot.”

I was stunned.  Based on what I’ve seen, most of her classmates couldn’t do that.  Their apathy throws mud in their wheels.  But this girl just did this all on her own.

I also know I didn’t teacher her that.  I don’t think I’ve even said the word “carrot” since I’ve been here.  She must have picked that up long ago.

Yesterday my co-teacher pointed to some colors in her book.  The girl wrote “pink”, “brown”, and “back”.

According to my co-teacher she never wrote or said anything in English last semester.  After trying to help her and getting nowhere, they figured English was too hard for her and that’s when they busted out the paper and crayons to keep her occupied with drawing.  Now she’s starting to put it out there.

What else does she know?  And, why is it coming out now?

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